Papal Household Preacher Reflects on Church as Mystery of Maternity

Mary Is Her Model, Father Cantalamessa Says

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Church is a mystery of maternity, and Mary is her model, the Papal Household preacher said during a meditation attended by John Paul II and Roman Curia officials.



As part of his weekly meditations in preparation for Easter, Father Raniero Cantalamessa began by asking: "What do I first think of when I hear the word 'Church'? People, requests, problems, injuries received?"

The Capuchin friar answered that often the word "Church" brings to mind "the Vatican," or "the hierarchy: Pope, bishops, priests."

"We run the risk of fitting this mistake and even of causing it," the Capuchin said when addressing his listeners gathered in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace.

The preacher then reflected on the essence of the Church in the light of Christ's words, addressed to the Apostle John, from the cross: "Son, behold your Mother."

"By suffering with her Son who was dying on the cross, Mary cooperated in a totally special way with the work of the Savior, with obedience, faith, hope and ardent charity, to restore supernatural life to souls," Father Cantalamessa said. "Because of this, she is our Mother in the order of grace."

"This is the meaning of many expressions that refer to Mary as 'figure of the Church,' 'mirror of the Church,' 'first fruit of the Church,' 'Church in nascent state,'" he continued.

The evangelical passage ends by saying: "And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."

"This word is jointly valid for Mary and for the Church, and it is a renewed invitation to take the Church to ourselves, among the most loved things," he said.

"Lent is the time of conversion," Father Cantalamessa concluded, "and this year I have asked the Lord for the grace to be converted to the Church."